A Livable Wage of at least $15 an Hour
Steve makes 11.80 an hour working full time—an average wage for Alabamians. His wife Kelly is a loving mother who cares for their two young children Corey and Ashlyn full time. On one of the coldest days this past winter their heater broke and the temperature in their home plummeted. You would expect that any family with a full-time bread-winner would be able to afford an essential repair like fixing a broken heater. But Steve and Kelly just couldn’t afford it.
The truth is that a family of four with one bread winner who earns 11.80 an hour—again, an average wage for Alabamians—is statistically in poverty.
Mike Smith believes that no Alabamian who works hard forty hours a week to support his family should have to live in poverty. Mike Smith believes that no Alabamian who works hard forty hours a week should ever have to explain to his children why he can’t turn the heater on.
Mike Smith is working hard to secure a livable wage for all Alabamians. That means raising the minimum wage to $15. Any lower, and too many Alabamians will continue to live on the brink of poverty, barely making ends meet, and always just one major appliance breakdown away from financial devastation.
Even with the great expansion of health insurance coverage in the United States we’ve seen over the last several years, many Alabamians are still suffering without. In fact, Alabama is ranked 47th in the nation for its health system performance, and the overall health of its residents.
Mike Smith thinks this is unacceptable. Unlike most elected officials currently serving in Alabama’s legislature, Mike will work hard to give all Alabamians access to affordable, quality health care. He will do this by expanding Medicaid in the state. As soon as we expand Medicaid, an additional 300,000 Alabamians will have access to healthcare. That will cause healthcare costs to go down statewide, since the main driver of excessive premiums is the lack of Alabamians with health insurance.
And the benefits don’t stop there! Since Alabama’s budget gets over 50% of its funding from sales tax, as much as $240 million in new state and local sales tax could be generated by simply expanding Medicaid.
Mental Healthcare Reform
Nearly every Alabamian has been personally affected by mental illness, whether they themselves have struggled or someone they love has struggled. Yet our representatives in the state legislature have consciously chosen to ignore the effects of mental illness on our residents. They are underfunding healthcare for mental illness to the point of essentially cutting it out. As a result we have diverted patients who need beds into jail cells. Mike believes this is wrong on every level: ethically, morally and financially.
Alabama’s Department of Public Health has identified mental health as the second largest health problem in the state, specifically citing the lack of mental health care providers, and the high rate of incarceration among this population.
As Senator, Mike will work to rebuild Alabama’s almost non-existent mental healthcare system. He has a plan to bring together experts and caregivers and build a new, modern, efficient statewide Mental Healthcare System.
How do we pay for this? Mike has a plan for that too. By acting on the first two issues in his agenda, the state will have dramatically reduced spending and created new streams of revenue enabling us to fund vital services like mental healthcare. In addition, because of the Medicaid expansion, the federal government will pick up 90% of the costs for many patients receiving mental healthcare.
Improving Public Schools
Alabama legislators have cut funding to our public schools by over 30% since 2010. And our public tax dollars are being diverted into Accountability Act scholarships which are awarded to students who attend private schools in Alabama. That means fewer tax dollars are going to support our state’s public schools, so they continue to falter. In fact, Alabama is ranked #47th in the nation for its education system. That may be acceptable to the elected officials currently sitting in Alabama’s legislature, but it’s not acceptable to Mike, and he intends to work for dramatic improvements to our public school system. He believes our children deserve it.
Mike has a comprehensive plan to improve Alabama’s public schools. It begins with addressing the unfair and unreliable testing system that public school students are subjected to. Mike will also work to repeal the Accountability Act which is hurting our schools, and he will fight for fair pay for our state’s hardworking teachers. Finally, he will fight to bring an education lottery to Alabama so that every deserving student has the opportunity to attend college and pursue his or her full potential, regardless of financial situation.